Parent Power – Reynolds School District empowers, educates families

May 10, 2018 by

Reynolds Middle School

Parents of eighth graders at Reynolds Middle School listened with rapt attention as a panel of Reynolds High School students, parents, and staff discussed the one of the most important transitions of their academic careers.

As students move from eighth grade to ninth grade, the panel’s advice to parents was unanimous – while it might seem like your students don’t need you, they need you now, more than ever.

Supporting children and families through the middle to high school transition is the primary focus of the Graduate Positioned for Success (GPS) Program. As a part of Stand For Children’s family engagement work, GPS serves to demystify the high school experience for families – especially for families who may have not navigated  high school before.

Located 16 miles east of Portland, Reynolds is one of the largest and most diverse school districts in Oregon. The halls of the newly remodeled high school fill with roughly 2,800 students every day who collectively speak 45 different languages and hail from five different municipalities. From a school-specific presentation about ninth grade, to discussing key study habits for new high school students, parents participating in GPS have the opportunity to learn more about how to support their students, interact with school staff, and become parent leaders themselves.

The focus on a successful transition to the ninth grade at Reynolds dovetails with Stand for Children in Oregon’s work to boost graduation rates in the state. After leading the successful passage of Measure 98, which directed funding specifically to improving high school graduation through expanded opportunities in career and technical education, college-level coursework and dropout prevention, Stand created the Oregon Center for High School Success (CHSS), a professional learning community which drinks deeply from the well of ninth grade success as a key factor in raising high school graduation rates.

Reynolds School District is also part of a group of seven school districts that serve as the foundational cohort of the Freshman Success Network. A program of CHSS, Network schools receive professional development training and tailored coaching on evidence-based interventions and strategies for ninth-grade students.

Nawwal Moustafa, a community and campaign organizer for Stand for Children Oregon, is passionate about the positive role that parent engagement programs like GPS can play in impacting student success. “A holistic and unified approach to supporting ninth grade can change the lives of not just an individual student, but of their families and community as well,” she said.